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November 19, 2013

Big Ten Power Poll: Week 12

It's time to update the BadgerBlitz.com Big Ten Power Poll, where Jon McNamara, Jon Gorman, Zack Miller and I will rank the Big Ten teams from 1 to 12 every week.

I complied the list in a traditional power poll style- a first place vote was good for 12 points, a second place one for 11, and so on.

1. Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) - 48 points (4 1st place votes)
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Illinois 60-35

Ohio State won big, but it was far from pretty. The Buckeyes let the Illini hang around for a while last week, and fair or not it cost them in the BCS standings. Baylor is just .001 percent behind Ohio State for the No. 3 spot in the poll, so the Buckeyes are going to need to kick it up a notch against their last few opponents if they want to be in position for a national title berth if Alabama or Florida State stumble.

2. Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) - 44 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Indiana 51-3

The Badgers kicked Indiana around for the fourth year in a row on Saturday, but as weird as it sounds they still left some points on the board by scoring touchdowns on just three of six redzone possessions. They can't afford to watch scoring chances like that on the road this week against Minnesota.

3. Michigan State (9-1, 6-0) - 40 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: defeated Nebraska 41-28

The Spartans held on against the Cornhuskers and clinched at least a share of the Legends Division title with the win. They gave up more points and yards than I expected going in to the game, but their offense took advantage of their opportunities and Mark Dantonio called another gutsy fake field goal that kept one of State's precious drives alive. Personally I can't wait to see them take on the Buckeyes in Indianapolis.

4. Minnesota (8-2, 4-2) - 35 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: BYE

It's put up or shut up time for the Gophers- they've secured a successful season with a winning record and another bowl bid, but we'll find out just how legit this team is when they host Wisconsin this weekend at TCF Bank Stadium. This game should be a little closer than their last few matchups.

5. Iowa (6-4, 3-3) - 32 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: BYE

We have two pretty clear tiers here in the power poll: Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State are the cream of the crop, and Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska are fighting for position in the next tier. I had Iowa at No. 4 along with Jon McNamara, while Zack Miller and Jon Gorman gave them a sixth-place vote each. This week's game against Michigan will be pretty telling.

6. Nebraska (7-3, 4-2) - 31 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Michigan State 41-28

Nebraska put up a pretty good fight against an excellent Michigan State defense, but in the end they weren't able to get enough stops when they needed to. This is a team that doesn't feel like a 7-win team, but you have to give them credit for being in a position to still win their division if they had beaten the Spartans.

T-7. Penn State (6-4, 3-3) - 22 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: defeated Purdue 45-21

Penn State took their turn to beat up on Purdue and made the most of it. But the Nittany Lions are a much different team when they're away from Happy Valley- their average scoring margin practically flips on the road (37-17 at home, 19-37 on the road). I'd expect them to play Nebraska tough at home and struggle against Wisconsin on the road to close out the season.

T-7. Michigan (7-3, 3-3) - 22 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: beat Northwestern 27-19

The Wolverines struggled offensively (to put it lightly) and barely beat a snake-bitten Northwestern team on the road in overtime. If they were playing a better team Brady Hoke's decision to go for it on 4th-and-2 instead of attempting a game-tying field goal in the fourth quarter would have probably cost them a win.

9. Northwestern (4-6, 0-6) - 15 points
Weekly change: +1
Last game: lost to Michigan 27-19

What else can you say at this point? I expected Northwestern to struggle more than a lot of other people, but nobody would have predicted an 0-6 start to Big Ten play in the preseason. That was just an ugly game played by two ugly teams, and Northwestern will probably be closing up shop a little earlier than they had planned this year.

10. Indiana (4-6, 2-4) - 10 points
Weekly change: -1
Last game: lost to Wisconsin 51-3

Boy, that escalated quickly. It was same old, same old for the Hoosiers against the Badgers. They couldn't stop Wisconsin's running game and they paid for it dearly. I thought the Hoosiers could be a bowl team in the preseason, but they'll need to find a way to stop teams like the Badgers from rushing for 500+ yards before they make it back to a bowl game.

11. Illinois (3-7, 0-6) - 9 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Ohio State 60-35

The Illini hung with Ohio State for a while until they melted down in the second half and took a safety that had head coach Tim Beckman and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit exchanging some heated words on the sideline. In the end the Illini just aren't talented enough to hang with the rest of the Big Ten for very long, but they have a chance for their first Big Ten win under Beckman this week against Purdue.

12. Purdue (1-9, 0-6) - 4 points
Weekly change: None
Last game: lost to Penn State 45-21

This week's game against Illinois is Purdue's best shot for another win this season. A win by the Boilermakers would be more of an indictment of Illinois' program than a sign of much progress by Purdue, though. This is a long-term rebuilding project.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.

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